“When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability… To be alive is to be vulnerable.” – Madeleine L’Engle
Yep, it’s one of the cruel blessings of being with someone who knows you well. Accept it. Grow in it. Enjoy it. Hang an ornament on it.
There’s just no getting around it: Your spouse is probably right.
Being vulnerable during the holidays is part of a healthy relationship. Your spouse or significant other just sees you and knows you in ways you don’t see you.
I first became aware of this fact, and it was kind of unnerving, because it was so early in my marriage. I had finished talking on the phone, and my wife said to me, “Hey, how is your mom?”
“How do you know who I was talking to?” I asked.
She’s like, “I can always tell when you’re talking to my mom, and I can always tell when you’re talking to your mom.” Then I said, “Oh, that’s neat”. What I thought was “Oh my hell, who did I marry and how did I not realize she has super powers”. Yeah, it was a little unnerving, kinda cool, kinda odd. I didn’t notice that. I didn’t see that. She did. Next thought “this is going to take some getting used to”.
As we step into the holiday season, you will hear your spouse say stuff that you might typically argue about. There is that element of, “No, I don’t really do that!”
One of the kids might try to yank your chain, and you want to snap, “What do you mean by that?”
If you rupture family harmony by over reacting, be a little quicker to repair it. You don’t need to wait until after the holidays. It’s okay to say, “Yeah, babe, I think you might be right on that one. Or, okay, kid, you’re probably on to something about me.” Recovering well is more valuable than perfection.
Step back and embrace the reality that your family perceives you in ways you’re not aware of. If you find yourself surprised, defensive or anxious about their sharing you with you (being vulnerable!), see it as an opportunity to grow. It is a blessing in disguise. This holiday season, make your vulnerability a gift to others—and to yourself.
–Dr. Kevin Gilliland, for the team at Innovation 360